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Sports Concussion


A concussion is a mild brain injury. It is usually caused by a bump or blow to the head. A sports concussion happens while you are playing sports. This can happen during almost any sport, but is most common with football, hockey, and boxing. Your head may come into contact with another player, the player's equipment, or a hard surface. Even a seemingly mild blow can cause a concussion. You may lose consciousness and need help getting off the field of play. It is important to follow the return to play protocol for your sport, even if you do not lose consciousness. This may mean you cannot go back into the game. You may also not be able to play in the next several games until you heal.


Have someone call 911 for any of the following:

  • You cannot be woken.
  • You have a seizure, increasing confusion, or a change in personality.
  • Your speech becomes slurred.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have sudden and new vision problems.
  • You have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • You do not recognize people or places that should be familiar to you.
  • You have arm or leg weakness, numbness, or new problems with coordination.
  • You have blood or clear fluid coming out of your ears or nose.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You feel more sleepy than usual.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • Your symptoms last longer than 6 weeks after the injury.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage or prevent a sports concussion:

Usually no treatment is needed for a mild concussion. Concussion symptoms usually go away within about 10 days, but they may last longer. The following may be recommended to manage your symptoms:

  • Have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours after your injury. Your healthcare provider should be contacted if your symptoms get worse, or you develop new symptoms.
  • Rest from physical and mental activities as directed. Mental activities are those that require thinking, concentration, and attention. You will need to rest until your symptoms are gone. Rest will allow you to recover from your concussion. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work and other daily activities.
  • Create a sleep schedule. Sleep is an important part of recovery from a concussion. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how much sleep is right for you. You may find that you are sleeping more than usual or less than usual after your concussion. This should get better over time as you heal. A sleep schedule can help make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. Do not use electronic devices or watch TV an hour before you go to sleep. These screens may make it harder to go to sleep or to stay asleep. Keep a record of how much you sleep each night. Bring the record to follow-up visits with your healthcare providers.
  • Do not participate in sports or physical activities until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Sports and physical activities could make your symptoms worse or lead to another concussion. Each concussion you have can build on the others and cause more damage.
  • Wear protective sports equipment that fits properly. Helmets help decrease your risk of a serious brain injury. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can decrease your risk for a concussion.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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